New call for papers Ekphrasis. Images, Cinema, Theory, Media

Storytelling at the Extreme? Narrative Turns in Contemporary Film and TV Series

In the past two decades, various filmmakers challenged their audiences and what was defined as the “classic” narrative in cinema and television. With their new ways of approaching audiovisual storytelling authors like Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994), Tom Tykwer’s Run, Lola, Run (2006), Cristopher Nolan’s Memento (2000) and Inception (2010), Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Babel (2006), Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2006), Gaspar Noé’s, Irreversible (2002), David Lynch’s Lost Highway (1997) and Mulholland Dr. (2000) or Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac (2013) stirred the interest of other writers, directors, viewers and researchers, equally intrigued by the causes and the effects of these new narrative forms.

Some film theorists never saw these transformations as groundbreaking as the authors claimed them to be, interpreting them as mere variations on classical Hollywood storytelling (David Bordwell, 2006). Others read these approaches as a way to organize the late modernist excess on subjective or schismatic temporality, thus creating only more conservatory modular narratives (Allan Cameron, 2008). Meanwhile others praised the engagement of the audience in a complex adventure of puzzle-solving, and thus transforming film consumption into a game-like endeavor (Warren Buckland, 2009).
Just as these three approaches defined the debate, and many of these films create their own special place in contemporary film canon, new production and distribution opportunities sparked the interest in other approaches on storytelling in cinema and television, with an increased attention to the mechanics of TV series narratives. At one end, some explore the film storytelling and new media with interactive movies, micro-movies, collective online productions or database features, while others see the traditional serialization process challenged by the contemporary consumption practices like Netflix, Amazon and other such platforms, with a subsequent rise in the narrative complexity of TV productions. At the other end, technical developments also enabled audacious choreographed extreme one-take movies like Aleksandr Sokurov’s Russian Ark (2002), Iñárritu’s Birdman (2014) or Sebastian Schipper’s Victoria (2015).
Do all these stand as a narrative turn in contemporary cinema and TV series or are they just individual experiments with storytelling? What are the major determinants of these plays upon the narrative form? Are they social, political, technological, industrial? How is the audience engaged by such stories? Ekphrasis welcomes papers which address the topic of ‘extreme’ storytelling in contemporary cinema and television in an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural manner, focusing on the opportunities and the difficulties it raises to theorists, historians, filmmakers, writers, producers, etc.

The articles should be written in English or French (for English, please use the MLA citation style and documenting sources).
For the final essay, the word limit is 5,000-8,000 words of text (without references). Please include a summary and key-words.
The articles should be original material, not published in any other media before. PhD students are particularly encouraged to submit papers. Please send all correspondence to:

Ekphrasis is a peer-reviewed academic journal, edited by the Faculty of Theatre and  Television, “Babes-Bolyai” University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania. For more information and submission guidelines, please visit:

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